Archive by Author

Quick Smoke: La Aroma de Cuba El Jefe

24 Jan 2015

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

I’ve been a fan of La Aroma de Cuba since it was redone a few years ago by Don José “Pepin” Garcia. This large (7 x 58), modestly priced (about $7) cigar was introduced a few years back to cater to the then-emerging trend for big smokes. For me, this size seems to lack the characteristics that make the line enjoyable. El Jefe has low smoke production, muted flavors, and lacks the smooth complexity of its siblings. Try a smaller size to appreciate what La Aroma de Cuba has to offer.

Verdict = Sell.

-George E

photo credit: N/A

Quick Smoke: Cabaiguan Lancero

18 Jan 2015

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

cabaiguan-g-lancero

This excellent cigar comes as part of Tatuaje’s ten-pack lancero sampler inaugurated last year and expected to be a low-production annual release at a shade under $100. I’ve tried a few and, while they’re all good, this is the best so far. The medium strength and many shifting flavors create a winning combination, with near-perfect construction and draw throughout. The Cabaiguan Lancero (7 x 38) is a beauty that should please almost any cigar smoker.

Verdict = Buy.

-George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Commentary: Three Cigar Wishes for 2015

13 Jan 2015

new years wishes

I have three cigar wishes for the new year. I’m not normally the optimistic type. More the way Billy Crystal described his grandfather: the kind of guy who always thought the glass was half full… of something that would kill you.

So, I can’t say I’m likely to see my wishes granted, but there’s always hope.

An exemption from FDA regulation. This, I think, would top every cigar smokers’ list. (Or it at least should.) If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t accept—or have forced upon it—an exemption for premium, hand-rolled cigars, it might not be a death blow to the industry. But it will most certainly inflict a crippling injury and likely render it unrecognizable within a few years. Expectations are for the regulations to come no sooner than this summer, but the uncertainty could easily stretch further into the future.

Good weather for tobacco crops. As cigar blenders continue to experiment with tobacco from more and more countries, the global climate becomes increasingly significant. Though the quality of 2015 crops won’t be apparent until years in the future, a top harvest would be a boon for manufacturers and ensure more great smokes to come.

Clean up the catalogs. Why do major catalog retailers devote more and more pages to machine-made cigars and electronic cigarettes and cigars? Money, of course. But I think it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish. I’ve got nothing against machine-mades or e-cigs, but I hate to see them closely associated and pitched with premium cigars. As the industry struggles to separate itself from nicotine delivery devices, this type of advertising hurts. Why not print separate catalogs for those who want them?

What’s on your list as we head into 2015?

-George E

photo credit: Flickr

Commentary: Give Us a Piece of Your Mind

7 Jan 2015

StogieGuys.com was born from a love of cigars. Its founders created the site (over eight years ago!) as an outlet to share their passion, and it has grown and evolved through the years, though cigars remain at the core.

I’ve spent some time reading through all our entries for 2014. In addition to scores of reviews, we’ve covered topics that range from tips for beginners to author interviews, from guides on great libations to exploring pertinent legislation. And many, many others, including reports from overseas.

As we head into a new year, it seems appropriate to do a little reassessing. To ask, as former New York City Mayor Ed Koch was fond of inquiring, “How am I doing?”

That’s where you come in.

Tell us what you’d like to see at StogieGuys.com in 2015.

Should we cover more of the growing number of high-end releases? Or scout for worthwhile low-priced sticks? Do you like to see interviews with industry leaders, or has the explosion of social media made them so visible that interviews aren’t really necessary nowadays?

One issue we struggle with is, when you’ve been doing this as long as we have, there’s a danger of being repetitive. Still, many readers are newcomers and could benefit from information or advice that may have been presented years ago.

Another big item for discussion: For the first time in years, we didn’t cover the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show in person. Our absence, mind you, wasn’t a protest; it was simply a reflection of the fact that (1) our site founders have day jobs and family obligations, and (2) travel accommodations are not inexpensive. Did you miss us not covering the event live? Or did we still give you enough reporting on the new releases and activities? Do you think it’s essential we cover this summer’s convention in New Orleans in person?

We’ve dabbled a bit into the world of pipe smoking. Should we do more?

Looking back, one area I’m particularly proud of is our coverage of federal legislation and regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We’ve also tried to rally readers to the cause. The outcome has the very real potential to dramatically alter—even destroy—every cigar smokers’ ability to continue enjoying cigars. Too much? Not enough? Just right?

I could go on. As you can see, I have barely scratched the surface of areas of interest.

So, if you would, take a minute or two and leave a comment, or send us an email, with your thoughts about Stogie Guys in 2015. And trust that we really value your feedback.
I can’t promise we’ll be able to satisfy everyone, though we will certainly consider all of your replies carefully.

And I will guarantee one thing: Cigars will always be front and center. We still love them.

-George E

photo credit: N/A

StogieGuys.com’s Top Cigars of 2014

31 Dec 2014

This was a good year for good cigars. Five scored our top five-stogie rating, and 15 ranked superbly at four and a half stogies.

Unlike last year, when I was the only one to award five-stogie ratings, each StogieGuys.com contributor had at least one top-ranked smoke in 2014.

Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje brand, which has had numerous high-scoring smokes through the years, scored two five-stogie ratings this year. The other three winners also represented brands with excellent track records: RoMa Craft, La Palina, and Paul Garmirian. Here are all five, listed in no particular order:

Tatuaje 10th Anniversary Bon Chasseur: This fat robusto was called a “remarkable smoke” and “simply one of the best new releases in recent memory,” by Patrick A.

Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda: Joey J found the flavors in this 2013 re-release “intense and varied… full-flavored all the way down to the nub.”

RoMa Craft Intemperance BA XXI A.W.S. IV: Patrick A’s other five-stogie cigar. He wrote of its “tremendous” balance, noting that the Lonsdale was “a joy to smoke.”

La Palina Collection Mr. Sam Robusto: After starting as a limited edition, Mr. Sam was added to the regular line and Patrick S called it “an impressive cigar full of flavor… that will be enjoyed by all types of cigar smokers.

Paul Garmirian Reserva Exclusiva Churchill: This quickly became my “newest favorite cigar,” an incredibly pleasing stick that displayed “subtlety and complexity.”

The following 15 cigars (listed in no particular order) came close. All you’ll see, they represent a wide array of companies, countries, prices, and profiles:

RoMa Craft Aquitaine Mode 5: “At $7, the Aquitaine Mode 5 is an incredible buy.”

Drew Estate Nirvana Toro: “There is something to love here for everyone.”

E.P. Carrillo 5th Year Anniversary Limitada: “It characterizes the best of E.P. Carrillo: flavorful, complex, and affordable.”

God of Fire Don Carlos 2009 Robusto: “I may only light up a God of Fire by Don Carlos cigar a few times a year, but when I do it’s always special and worth the high price.”

Illusione *R* Rothchildes: “This small, value-priced Illusione is outstanding.”

Illusione Epernay L’Excellence: “Illusione makes some very fine cigars, but the Epernay line is the pinnacle—Giolito’s highest achievement.”

Joya Red Robusto: “The Robusto is classic with traditional tastes and plenty of balance and complexity.”

L’Atelier Imports LAT46 Selection Spéciale: “At the midway point it becomes clear this is a complex, balanced cigar with lots to offer (especially to attentive smokers).”

My Father No. 1: The second time this cigar scored a four-and-a-half-stogie rating. “No simple sledgehammer. It has the subtlety and nuance that seasoned cigar smokers look for in cigars in this price range.”

Partagas Benji Homage Toro: “If you’re a fan of bold boutique smokes, check out the Homage.”

Reinado Grand Empire Reserve Ecuador Edition Petit Lancero: “One of the best Ecuadorian Connecticut-wrapped smokes I’ve had in a long time.”

Tatuaje The Jekyll: “The Jekyll is an excellent, well-balanced smoke that’s well worth the $13 price and worthy of the Monster Series name.”

Tatuaje Pudgy Monster Tiff: “It’s dominated by sweet creaminess, along with roasted nut and woodiness, and hints of paper, graham, and spice.”

Viaje Oro Reserva VOR Aficionado: “A special spice-forward, interesting cigar worth finding.”

Drew Estate Herrera Estelí Piramide Fino: “This is an outstanding belicoso… a truly wonderful value at $10.”

Padrón Family Reserve No. 50 Maduro: “A model of restrained strength with full flavors.”

If this list isn’t enough to keep you busy for a while, you can peruse all the Stogie Guys reviews back to 2006 at our archive. We also break out the five-stogie rated sticks here. And the details on our rating system are here.

-George E

photo credit: N/A

Cigar Review: Aging Room Bin No. 1 B Minor

29 Dec 2014

B MinorThere aren’t many cigars I’d purchase by the box without having even tasted one. Aging Room’s blends are an exception to the rule.

I’ve been a big Aging Room fan since the first one I smoked a couple of years ago, the M356 Presto. Lately, I’d been tremendously impressed by the exquisite M20 Fortissimo.

So, when I went to a recent even featuring Boutique Blends co-owner Rafael Nodal, I was intending to buy a 10-count box of those limited edition M20s. Rafael’s enthusiasm for the Bin No. 1 quickly convinced me to pick up a box of those as well. Good decision.

I’m smoking my way through the B Minor (6.125 x 52), a beauty with a dark, toffee-colored Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over well-aged Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. The cigar retails for about $12.50 and comes in boxes of 20. The other two sizes available are even bigger: C Major (6.25 x 54) and G Major (6.25 x 63).

Bin No. 1 makes quite a first impression with a large parchment-style outer band that covers nearly half the cigar. It comes off easily and reveals a more traditional band beneath.

Prelight, there’s little aroma. But the cigar makes a statement from the first puff with a combination of spice and sweetness that’s shortly joined by a dark, rich fruitiness. A little farther on, the spice shifts more to pepper and the sweetness backs off. At about the halfway point, the strength downshifts a bit, and then picks up in the final third.

Overall, Bin No. 1 is a complex, strong, and highly satisfying cigar with excellent construction, draw, and burn. With tobacco already years old, I’m guessing these may not be the best candidates for long-term aging because it would be a shame for them to lose the zesty qualities that stand out.

As with other Aging Room cigars, I recommend the Bin No. 1. It earns four stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

-George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Viaje Stuffed Turkey White Meat

20 Dec 2014

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”IMG_3778 - Version 2San-Lotano-Oval-Conn-sq

As a vegan, this annual holiday season release is about as close to turkey as I get. The Stuffed Turkey, available in both White and Dark varieties, became a separate line this year after three years under the so-called White Label Project. The White Meat (5 x 58) sells for $10 and features Nicaraguan Aganorsa binder and filler tobaccos wrapped in a Criollo Aganora leaf. I found this cigar to be spicy and satisfying, changing intensity and flavors throughout. It’s a fine cigar for any time of year.

Verdict = Buy.

-George E

photo credit: N/A